Monster Energy Cup Series News (15097)
Ford Motor Company will introduce the latest version of the F-150, part of America’sbest-selling truck lineup, on Sunday when Ford’s President of The Americas MarkFields leads the field to green for Michigan International Speedway’s NASCARSprint Cup series race in the new 2013 F-150.
“Like our hardworking customers, Ford iscommitted to continuous improvement and getting the job done right with ourindustry-leading trucks,” Fields said. “So many of our truck customers are racefans that it makes perfect sense to show our new 2013 F-150 FX4 model for thefirst time at the track.”
Fields will serve as pace car driver for thesecond straight June race at MIS, after leading the field to the green flag ina 2012 Focus last year.
The F-Series line of trucks has led the wayas the best-selling line of pickups in America for 35 straight years, and oneof those who has helped keep that streak intact is NASCAR Sprint Cup pointsleader Greg Biffle, who drives an F-150 as his personal vehicle.
"It is going to be really neat to seethat new F-150 leading the field at MIS this year," Biffle said. "Iam a huge truck guy and the F-series has never ceased to impress me over theyears. I think this 2013 model continues that trend and I know NASCAR fans aregoing to be really impressed when they see it leading the way Sunday."
The 2013 F-150 also boasts best-in-class fuel economy and capability. From thepowerful and efficient 3.5-liter EcoBoost® engine to the mighty6.2-liter V8, the most powerful eight-cylinder engine in the segment, F-150offers an engine to meet the needs of every customer. Each engine across theF-150 lineup is mated to a fuel-saving electronic six-speed automatictransmission with tow/haul mode.
Also available with the six-speedtransmission is SelectShift™ capability, standard with FX4 and above.SelectShift™ provides progressive range select and manual shift mode, allowingcustomers the convenience of an automatic transmission for routine operationcombined with the ability to select and lock gears.
Whatrace fans are most likely to notice as the 2013 F-150 FX4 circles the track isthe bold new grille with newly available HID projector headlamps that combinesfresh design with instantly recognizable F-Series cues. Also new for the latestFX4 model is standard hill descent control proven in the Ford F-150 SVT Raptorand standard SYNC with MyFord, a 4.2-inch multi-function information display thatprovides enhanced displays of audio and climate-control functions.
The2013 F-150 FX4 is also available with SYNC with MyFord Touch, which includes anall-new, large 8-inch LCD color touch screen mounted in the center stack. Thispackage adds a media hub with two USB ports, an SD card reader and audio/videoinput jacks.
“We are proud to continue what is becoming atradition of highlighting our new products to NASCAR race fans across thecountry,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “Just like last yearwhen we showcased Focus and two years ago with Fiesta, we’re using thisMichigan race as a platform to promote another one of the outstanding productsin the Ford lineup.”
Ford has been at the forefront of using itsNASCAR pace car program to highlight its extensive line of new cars, trucks andsport utility vehicles. This includes being the first company to have anall-electric pace car with the Fusion Electric earlier this year in Richmond.Ford also was first to use a Hybrid pace car to start a NASCAR race when theFusion Hybrid led the field to green for the Ford 400 at Homestead-MiamiSpeedway in 2008. In addition, the Taurus SHO, Mustang GT 5.0L V-8 and2011 Explorer SUV have served as pace vehicles over the last two years.
Ford Racing PR
Don't try to hail the yellow-and-black cab that you'll see flying around Michigan International Speedway (MIS) next weekend. It will probably be going too fast. Aric Almirola will take the No. 43 Medallion Financial Ford to the newly repaved track for this weekend's Quicken Loans 400, plus a one-day test session on Thursday to feel out the new surface. A tire test in April at the two-mile oval, which was repaved in the off-season, showed speeds topping 210 miles per hour, far exceeding the track qualifying record of 194.232 miles per hour.
Almirola knows where Victory Lane is at MIS. He visited there with a race win in the Camping World Truck Series in 2010. In addition to his Truck win, Almirola also has one top-five finish in two Nationwide starts at Michigan. He'll look to take his Medallion cab-themed Ford back to Victory Lane at the end of Sunday's 400-mile Sprint Cup Series event.
Comments from Medallion Financial Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"I'm looking forward to going to Michigan. I like racing there and have won there in the Truck Series. It's always good to go back to a track where you've had a success - it gives you a little more confidence going in even if you're in a different series. It will be good to have Medallion back on the car, too. It's a cool scheme and definitely gets people's attention.
"It'll be interesting to see the speeds for that first day of testing. They were pretty fast at the tire test a couple months ago. You'll definitely have to be on your game when you're behind the wheel because with those high speeds you can have the 'Big One' much like at a restrictor-plate track. But our goal is to be running up front and not have to be dodging anything."
Comments from Crew Chief Mike Ford on Michigan:
"Michigan is going to be a somewhat similar situation as Pocono. Both were repaved in the off-season and both are tracks where Aric has never run in a Cup car. So we'll go out there and test on Thursday to see how the new surface is and get him acclimated to the track.
"It's going to be fast, we know that. The tire test earlier this year showed speeds at 210, almost 215 miles per hour. We'll get a feel for it over the test day and practices, and then keep an eye on the ARCA and Nationwide races to get some indicators to see what happens in race conditions."
The good news for Kyle Busch is that the last time he raced a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, he ended the day by hoisting the winner’s trophy there for the first time.
In contrast to Las Vegas native Busch’s previous 12 Sprint Cup starts at the 2-mile oval that sits approximately 90 miles southwest of Detroit, during which he posted just one top-five finish and led just 88 laps, Busch’s 2011 assault on Michigan International Speedway netted his maiden win in the Irish Hills in August, a third-place finish in June and 81 laps led in the two events.
As the driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Peanut Butter Squared Toyota Camry heads back to Michigan for the Quicken Loans 400 on Sunday, an offseason track resurfacing will have Busch, along with crew chief Dave Rogers and the entire No. 18 team, working hard to adjust to the blazing-fast track conditions facilitated by the new pavement.
Busch, Rogers and the SNICKERS Peanut Butter Squared team got a head start on the learning process in April as they were among four teams that participated in a Goodyear tire test on the new surface.
After spending two extra days on-track at another newly resurfaced facility last weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the No. 18 team has an especially short turnaround with extra practice sessions Thursday at Michigan so teams could begin adjusting to the vastly increased grip.
The No. 18 team had just a little more than 24 hours from when the hauler arrived from Pocono at the JGR shop in Huntersville, N.C., before it was time to load the SNICKERS Peanut Butter Squared Toyota back on the truck for the trek up to Michigan.
But few – if any – individuals in the NASCAR garage are known to work harder than Rogers, Busch and the No. 18 team when it comes to race preparation. As the Beastie Boys so eloquently put it many years ago, there certainly will be “No Sleep till Brooklyn” as the talented Busch and his troops work this week to back up their Michigan win last August.
It doesn’t take much to get the Wood Brothers excited about racing at Michigan International Speedway. The two-mile oval is home territory for the team’s long-time backer, Ford Motor Company, and the Woods are tied with fellow Ford owner Jack Roush for all-time Sprint Cup victories there with 11 apiece.
The Woods won the first-ever Cup race at Michigan in a thriller in which NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough prevailed in a last-lap fender-banging duel with Lee Roy Yarbrough.
Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Trevor Bayne, said this weekend’s Quicken Loans 400 reminds him of that inaugural run back in 1969 because of the track’s all-new racing surface.
“I’m really looking forward to the test day and to the race,” he said. “I wasn’t there for the first race in ’69, but this one feels like that.”
Wood also is anxious to see how high the speeds will climb on the new surface. “Of course I’m not a driver, but I like the speed,” he said.
Donnie Wingo, crew chief of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, also is ready to get to work at Michigan. For Sunday’s 400-miler, he’s chosen the same Ford Fusion that Bayne raced at Las Vegas and Texas Motor Speedway.
The car finished ninth at Vegas and was fast at Texas before a brush with the wall left the team with a disappointing finish.
“It’s all back like brand new,” Wingo said of the Michigan entry.
The veteran crew chief said the extra test day, because of the new pavement, is a big plus because it will allow the team to spend more practice time on a race set-up than they normally take.
On many weekends, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, which is not guaranteed a starting spot because of its part-time status, has to spend most of the practice sessions making sure the car is fast enough to qualify on speed.
Wingo said the extra test time on Thursday plus the regular practices on Friday will allow the team to devote some laps to a set-up for Sunday.
“We should get to try some things that we don’t get to try on a regular weekend.” he said.
Wood Brothers Racing PR
Richard Childress Racing in the Motor City ... In 127 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Michigan International Speedway, RCR teams have earned three wins, two with Dale Earnhardt (June 1987, 1990) and the most recent with Kevin Harvick (August 2010). Additionally, RCR has claimed 17 top-five and 42 top-10 finishes with 10 different drivers including Richard Childress, a former driver in NASCAR's top division, who recorded top-10 finishes at MIS in June 1978 and August 1979. The Welcome, N.C.-based organization has an 18.6 average starting position, an average finishing position of 16.9, has completed 23,772 of the 25,129 contested laps (94.4 percent) and has led 676 laps in the Irish Hills.
RCR in the NSCS ... In 2,207 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts dating back to 1969, RCR has amassed 100 wins, 431 top-five finishes, 895 top-10 finishes and 42 pole awards, with an average starting position of 17.8 and an average finishing position of 15.8 among all races contested. RCR has earned six Sprint Cup Series championships with Dale Earnhardt (1986, '87, '90,'91, '93, '94), 14 total championships (five NASCAR Nationwide Series titles, two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and one ARCA Racing Series title) and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR's three national series.
The Collective RCR ... Throughout the season's first 14 races, RCR's Sprint Cup Series entries have notched four top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. RCR teams have completed 14,492 out of 14,774 total laps (98.22 percent) with drivers Jeff Burton, Harvick, Paul Menard, Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan. The group has led a combined 174 laps.
Dillon Joins the RCR NSCS Lineup at MIS ... Austin Dillon is scheduled to make his second career Sprint Cup Series start in this weekend's Michigan 400. Dillon will pilot the No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet during Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.
Get to the Points ... Following the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR at Pocono Raceway, Harvick advanced to sixth in the driver championship point standings, 53 markers out of the top spot. Menard climbed to 13th in the standings, while Burton remained in 18th.
Interactive RCR ...To keep up-to-date with the latest news and to view exclusive content, visit RCR's Twitter page - @RCRracing - along with the RCR Sprint Cup Series team Twitter pages - @RCR27PMenard, @RCR29KHarvick, @RCR31JeffBurton and @RCR3ADillon. Information about the 14-time championship winning organization can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardChildressRacing and at www.RCRracing.com.
Catch the Action ... TNT's live coverage of the Michigan 400 begins Sunday, June 17 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Qualifying for the 15th points-paying event on the Sprint Cup Series calendar will air live on SPEED on Saturday, June 16 at 12 p.m. ET.
No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet
Event Preview Fact Sheet
This Week's Duracell/Menards Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 397 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2012 competition, this No. 27 Chevrolet will turn its first laps at MIS.
By the Numbers in the Irish Hills ... In 11 career Spring Cup Series starts at the two-mile oval, Menard has finished each of his contested races and completed 98 percent of his laps (2,164 of 2,209), leading for seven circuits. He has an average starting position of 27.2 and an average finishing position of 23.2. According to NASCAR's Loop Data statistics, Menard ranks sixth in the category Green-Flag Passes, gaining 1,004 positions under green-flag conditions since its inception in 2006. The Eau Claire, Wis., native recorded both his best start (ninth) and his best finish (fourth) during his last year's June visit to the Brooklyn, Mich.-based facility. He also owns two top fives, five top-10 finishes and one pole award in six NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at MIS.
Getting Loopy in 2012 ... With 14 points-paying events of the 2012 season complete, Menard sits 13th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 27 points out of the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot. In his sophomore year with RCR, Menard has an average starting position of 18.3, an average finishing position of 15.6, maintains an average running position of 18.4, and has completed 99.6 percent of his laps (4,429 of 4,448).
Double Duty Weekend ... In addition to his driving duties with the No. 27 Sprint Cup Series team, Menard will also drive the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet for RCR in Saturday's 250-mile Nationwide Series race at MIS. The event will air live on ABC beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time and will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Meet Menard ... On Thursday, June 14, Menard is scheduled to meet with fans and sign autographs alongside ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver Frank Kimmel at the Menards store grand opening in Jackson, Mich. from 7-8 p.m. ET. The new Menards store is located at 3588 Page Avenue, Jackson, Mich., 49203.
Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3 ... Menard and the No. 27 team will participate in an open test session June 14 at MIS. They are utilizing chassis No. 351 from the RCR stable, which will also serve as the backup to the primary car during this weekend's events.
Happy Father's Day ... With children ranging from six months of age to young adults, there is never a shortage of stories from proud dads in the Duracell/Menards hauler. Happy Father's Day to crew chief Slugger Labbe, car chief Craig Smokstad, shock specialist Kris McCabe, tire specialist Chris Sherwood, mechanics Clint Almquist, Jesse Sanders and Chad Tigert, spotter Stevie Reeves, hauler drivers Jeff Icenhour and Rocky Boggs, front-tire changer Terry Spalding, front-tire carrier Erik Pringle, rear-tire changer Aaron Smith and rear tire-carrier Ray Wright.
Race Rewind ... Menard and the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team brought home a fourth-place finish in the June 2011 Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Starting from the ninth position, the No. 27 Chevrolet team competed in the top 15 for the entire 200-lap event.
In the Rearview Mirror: Pocono ... Menard took the green flag in the third position and drove the Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish in last Sunday's Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR, spending 159 of 160 laps in the top 15 and marking his best result at Pocono Raceway.
About Duracell ... Part of the Procter & Gamble Company, Duracell has been powering people around the world for more than 40 years as the brand that was, and is, trusted everywhere. Their products serve as the heart of devices that keep people connected, protect their families, entertain them and simplify their increasingly mobile lifestyles. As the world's leading manufacturer of high-performance alkaline batteries, Duracell also innovates in lighting, renewable power and wireless charging technologies to help consumers live life without limits. Visit Duracell.com for more information, follow on Twitter.com/Duracell_Power, and "like" Duracell on Facebook.com/Duracell.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
As we head to Michigan International Speedway you're faced with another repaved race track. Do you think it will be as wide open as it used to be?
"No, absolutely not (will the track be as wide open as before). I think it is going to take a little bit for it to burn in. Much like Pocono (Raceway) and Phoenix (International Raceway) which were also repaved, it has a single groove for a little while, but as we test and as we run more laps it does open up. I'm looking forward to going there; it is going to be exciting. I think it's going to be the fastest track on the schedule."
The teams that tested recorded really fast speeds. Does that concern you at all?
"No, I'm not concerned about the speeds. It's going to be pretty exciting for us drivers. Unless you came from Indy cars, a lot of us have never run that fast."
Running those high speeds and the RPMs at Michigan International Speedway, how much is the wear and tear on the engine a concern to you and the team?
"We run roughly 9500 RPM and by changing the rear gear, we'll make the motor last through the race. You have to do a lot of adjustments to the car when you run those speeds, and when a track is repaved there are a lot of unknowns. Goodyear held a tire test at MIS since the repaving of the track, so I am sure the guys at ECR have a good idea of what gear we need to run."
What will you and the No. 27 team work on during the open test on Thursday?
"We don't really know yet. We'll have a test plan put together, but until you make that first lap you really don't know what you have."
No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet
Event Preview Fact Sheet
This Week's Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 378 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The Bakersfield, Calif., native drove this RCR racer earlier this season at Kansas Speedway where he brought home a sixth-place finish. This chassis was also used in competition twice during the 2011 season when Harvick captured a second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in September and a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October.
Racing in the Irish Hills ... Throughout the course of his Sprint Cup Series career, Harvick has 22 starts at the Brooklyn, Mich.-based facility, collecting one victory (August 2010), three top-five and seven top-10 finishes. The 36-year-old driver holds an average starting position of 18.8 and a 15th-place average finishing position at the two-mile tri-oval. Harvick has completed 4,259 of 4,300 (99 percent) of the contested laps and led 149. In addition to his 2010 Sprint Cup Series win at MIS, Harvick has one Nationwide Series win at the track which came in the fall of 2003.
Going for a Loop in 2012 ... According to NASCAR's Loop Data Season-to-Date Statistics, Harvick has completed 14 Sprint Cup Series events this season garnering solid stats in several categories including: third in Fastest in Traffic (11.214 average position), fourth in Green Flag Speed (8.231 average position) and fifth in Fastest Driver on Restarts (11.643 average position).
Points Racing ... With 14 points-paying events in the books, Harvick and the No. 29 team sit sixth in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 53 markers behind the leader. The team has collected three top-five and seven top-10 finishes thus far this season, completing 4,436 of 4,448 laps (99.73 percent) contested.
Visiting MacDill Air Force Base ... On Tuesday Harvick traveled to Florida to help promote Daytona International Speedway's July race. The first stop of the day was MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., where the driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet toured a KC-135, a long-range tanker aircraft, took part in a Q&A session with base personnel and participated in a media availability session with local TV and print media.
Throwing Out the First Pitch ... While in Florida, Harvick will visit the Tampa Bay Rays stadium where he'll meet several of the team's players and participate in media availability with team manager Joe Maddon. Harvick will cap off the night by throwing out the first pitch as the Rays take on the New York Mets.
Red, White and Blue Summer Returns to the track ... The patriotic red, white and blue Budweiser Folds of Honor paint scheme returns to the No. 29 Chevrolet this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. The special paint scheme reflects the "Red, White and Blue Summer" packaging featured on the iconic Budweiser bottles and cans as part of a summer initiative in which the brand will contribute a portion of all sales from May 20 - July 7 to help raise as much as $2.5 million for the Folds of Honor Foundation*, which provides post-secondary educational scholarships for families of U.S. military personnel killed or disabled while serving their country. The Folds of Honor logo will also be featured on the TV panel of the No. 29 Chevrolet. In addition to Sunday's race, Harvick's Budweiser ride will feature the "Red, White and Blue Summer" paint scheme for Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky Speedway (June 30), Daytona International Speedway (July 7), Pocono Raceway (Aug. 5) and Watkins Glen International (Aug. 12). (*Maximum donation of $2.5 million includes $5,000 for every walk-off in select 2012 professional baseball games and a portion of sales for every case of Budweiser sold, 5/20-7/7.)
Grow One. Save a Million ... The No. 29 Budweiser Racing Team, additional RCR employees, several media members and a number of Sprint Cup Series crew members helped conserve more than 17,500 gallons of water as part of Budweiser's "Grow One. Save a Million." efforts. In support of World Environment Day (June 5), Budweiser encouraged individuals to pledge not to shave for a set number of weeks to help save a million gallons of water. Additional information on the program is available on the "Grow One" tab on Budweiser's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Budweiser.
Transform Reality with Blippar ... Emerging technology from Blippar delivers an exclusive mobile experience to fans of Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Racing Team. Blippar is the first image-recognition phone app aimed at bringing to life products with exciting augmented reality interactions and instantaneous content. With the Blippar app fans can use their smart phones to convert the Bud 29 logo into an interactive, wow experience where they can view footage of Harvick and the team, get behind-the-scenes access and take their photo with the driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet. The free app is available for download on iOS and Android devices. Once downloaded, fans can utilize the app to blipp (scan) the Bud 29 logo, accessible in retail locations and on team merchandise, to access the special content.
Happy Father's Day ... While most members of the NASCAR community will celebrate Father's Day at the track and away from their father or children, front tire carrier on the No. 29 Budweiser team, Austin Craven, will spend the day near the man who was his hero, his father. Jeff "Rooster" Craven is the hauler driver for the No. 31 RCR team and a well-respected, longtime member of the NASCAR community. Austin followed in his father's footsteps and started working in the industry as a teen before going fulltime after he graduated from high school in 2003. The two worked for different teams for years, but have worked for the same organization since Austin joined RCR four years ago.
Meet the Press ... Harvick will be available to members of the media at 11:50 a.m. ET on Friday in the MIS infield media center.
The Last Time By ... Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser team rallied back from late-race contact with the outside retaining wall to finish 14th in last year's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
In the Rearview Mirror: Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR ... Harvick and RCR's No. 29 Rheem team finished 14th at Pocono Raceway last Sunday after overcoming a pit road penalty and battling a tight-handling condition during the 160-lap event at the "Tricky Triangle".
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:
What do you anticipate at Michigan International Speedway this weekend now that the track has been repaved? Will it be as wide open as usual?
"I think it will be more wide open. With the test at Pocono (Raceway) the week before, I think a lot of what we learned there will apply as we go to Michigan (International Speedway), but the speeds will be a little bit higher at Michigan."
Do you think the cars will move up and down in the corners? Or do you think everybody will be locked to the bottom?
"I think you're going to have to move around. The bottom is probably going to be the fastest as you go through the race, but it'll be a little bit easier for the cars to move around at Michigan (International Speedway) just because it's more wide open with different degrees of banking than Pocono (Raceway). I still think the bottom will probably be the fastest though."
Speeds at the Goodyear tire test at Michigan International Speedway were over 200 mph. Are there any concerns about that?
"Not really. I think everybody knew with the race track being repaved you were going to have some pretty high speeds and everybody was prepared. You just go do the same things that you would do at any other race track and try to acquire as much information as you can on Thursday and apply it as fast as possible for the rest of the weekend."
You broke through with a win at Michigan International Speedway in 2010. What are your thoughts about getting that done?
"I think everything we've done at Michigan (International Speedway) kind of goes out the window. Obviously it was a tricky race track when we went there before because the tires fell off so bad. A lot of times you had to run the high groove and you had a lot of options for your car to move around. As you go back this time you're going to have some new challenges that you didn't face in the past, but it was good to finally get that breakthrough win at Michigan. We'd struggled there for several years before that and it hadn't been one of our better tracks, but we were able to get all of that behind us."
No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
Event Preview Fact Sheet
This Weekend's No. 31 Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 393 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet, built new for the 2012 season, was utilized twice this year at Auto Club Speedway in March (started-19th, finished-22nd) and Darlington Raceway in May (started-10th, finished-18th).
Career Michigan Stats ... This weekend's 400-mile event marks Burton's 37th start at the two-mile facility and 634th-career Sprint Cup Series entry. Burton garnered four top-five and nine top-10 finishes at the track along with two pole awards in 1996 and 2006. He also led 75 laps at the Brooklyn, Mich.-based race track.
Getting Loopy in the Irish Hills ... Burton has accrued impressive NASCAR Loop Data Statistics at Michigan International Speedway since its inception in 2006. Of all drivers entering the event, he has the third-most green flag passes (1,078) with 382 coming while running in the top 15. Burton has also spent 1,041 laps running in the top 15.
Goodyear Tire Testing ... The No. 31 team has been selected as one of the three Sprint Cup Series teams to test the new repaved surface at Bristol Motor Speedway on Tuesday, June 12 and Wednesday, June 13. Burton will field questions about the first day of Sprint Cup Series testing from the media inside the BMS infield media center on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET.
Team Chevy ... Burton is scheduled to participate in a question-and-answer session at the Team Chevy stage located in the Michigan International Speedway display area on Sunday, June 17at 9:05 a.m. ET.
NASCAR Unites ... The No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet will sport red, white, and blue patriotic trim on spoilers, fins and side skirts to support the NASCAR Unites program. The patriotic initiative is designed to unite the NASCAR industry and fans this summer to celebrate America and support U.S. military families. For information on NASCAR Unites, visit http://www.NASCAR.COM/Unites, like NASCAR Unites on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/NASCARUnites or follow them on Twitter: @NASCARUnites.
Race Rewind ... Burton and the No. 31 Armed Forces Foundation Chevrolet team survived two rare penalties and to bring home a top-15 finish in the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Points Racing ... Burton scored 351 points and sits 18th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. After 14 points-paying events of the 36-race Sprint Cup Series season, Burton has one top-five and three top-10 finishes. The veteran RCR driver has spent 1,789 laps running in the top 15, has made 1,477 green-flag passes and led 34 laps.
JEFF BURTON QUOTES:
What do you expect out of Michigan International Speedway now that it is repaved?
"I think it is going to be really fast. I am more concerned about how many racing grooves there will be. Until we get there and start running, it is really hard to know. Sometimes with new asphalt, there is only one groove. One groove at Michigan International Speedway would be hard to deal with restarts and everything else. We need to figure out where the grooves are going to be and will there be multiple grooves. All those things we need to figure out during testing on Thursday and practice throughout the weekend. Right now, I just don't have that answer. I have to keep an open mind going there until we can figure out what we need to do."
Michigan International Speedway has always been a place where you see a lot of drivers running in different grooves.
"The shape of Michigan International Speedway will allow us to run more places than just the bottom. The radius is so tight because the corners and racing groove are so wide. There is a huge difference in the corner radius at the bottom of the race track against the top of the race track. Sometimes with new pavement, there is only one place you can run and until we figure it out, it is hard to know that answer."
Are the high speeds going to be a major concern?
"It is more of a constant speed at Michigan International Speedway. You've got a two-mile race track and you run at a high speed consistently. We have to be careful to not get going too fast. Not just from a safety standpoint, but from a quality of race standpoint. Races tend to be better when the speeds are down just a little bit. The cars drive better when they are going fast, but from the quality of the race standpoint, I'm not sure that more speed out of the track would be a good thing."
How important is your engine package at Michigan International Speedway?
"Engine reliability is always a concern at Michigan International Speedway because you are in the high RPM range for so long. When you lift off the gas there, the RPMs don't come down as much. You operate with a very high average RPM. That is always a concern and will be again this weekend."
No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet
Event Preview Fact Sheet
This Week's American Ethanol Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Austin Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 396 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet is a new addition to the RCR fleet and will be put through its first paces this weekend.
Dillon at Michigan International Speedway ... Dillon has four starts at MIS, spread among the NASCAR Nationwide Series (finished 19th in 2009), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (finished fifth in 2010 and 22nd in 2011) and ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards (finished second in 2009). The 2011 Camping World Truck Series Driver Champion earned the pole award at the two-mile track in the 2010 edition of the Camping World Truck Series race.
WIN with American Ethanol ... American Ethanol will activate a strategic integrated branding campaign, including an extensive sweepstakes aimed to engage NASCAR fans, from June 8 to August 31, 2012. The "American Ethanol Sweepstakes" will educate consumers about E15, fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol, similar to the Sunoco Green E15 used in every race car in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series races. The American Ethanol Sweepstakes will give away over 500 prizes valued at $150,000, including three Chevy Silverados, race tickets and autographed merchandise. Fans can enter for a chance to win online at NASCAR.COM/aesweeps. The sweepstakes will be promoted on the TNT Summer Series race coverage, online via promotional units, on American Ethanol's Facebook page and onsite at various events across the country.
On Top the Box ... Long-time RCR employee and veteran crew chief Gil Martin will serve as crew chief of the No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet team this weekend. Martin, who currently serves as RCR's Director of Team Operations overseeing the organization's Nationwide Series programs, is among an elite group of crew chiefs who have earned wins in NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Martin guided Kevin Harvick to four wins, nine top-five and 19 top-10 finishes en route to a third-place showing in the point standings during the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season. He also worked in the Sprint Cup Series with Casey Mears, Clint Bowyer and Robby Gordon at RCR.
Double Duty ... In addition to Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race, Dillon is scheduled to compete in RCR's No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series Alliance Truck Parts 250 at MIS on Saturday afternoon. The race is scheduled to be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Meet Dillon ... Dillon is scheduled to make an appearance at the Team Chevrolet Stage located near the track's main Gate 24 ticket office in the Fan Plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
Trackside, Live ... On Friday evening, Dillon is scheduled to appear on Trackside Live. The program airs on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Last Time Around ... In his Sprint Cup Series debut at Kansas Speedway last October, Dillon drove the No.98 Curb-Agajanian/Reagan Centennial/Camping World/Curb Records Chevrolet to a 26th-place finish driving for owner Mike Curb, in partnership with Richard Childress Racing.
AUSTIN DILLON QUOTES:
What does it mean to you to run the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for American Ethanol?
"It means a lot to have this opportunity. I look forward to representing American Ethanol, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association in the Sprint Cup Series. They've become great partners for RCR in the Nationwide Series, and I commend their commitment to clean air. Michigan International Speedway has always been one of my favorite tracks, and I think it will be even more exciting to race there in the Cup Series race given the recent repave the track has undergone."
How do you feel about running on Father's Day weekend?
"My dad pushes me a lot. We always joke around and say we are going to take the radio from him during races because he is so vocal. I know he's trying to help me, but we like to tease him about it. It's cool to be able to run a Sprint Cup Series race on Father's Day weekend because I am close to both my father and my grandfather. Everything we do together as a family is either hunting and fishing-related or racing-related, so even though it's Father's Day weekend, it's not that much different from what we do every day. I'm proud of my family, and the organization my grandfather has built. He's taught me about working hard. He built everything he has from the ground up and it's an honor that he has given me the chance to race."
Race: Alliance Truck Parts 250
Date: June 16, 2012
Location: Michigan International Speedway
Richard Childress Racing
NASCAR Nationwide Series Notes
RCR's NASCAR Nationwide Series History at Michigan International Speedway ... In 23 previous starts at Michigan International Speedway, Richard Childress Racing has earned five top-five and 13 top-10 finishes, making a trip to Victory Lane at the track with Kevin Harvick in 2003. RCR entries have completed 96.1 percent of laps attempted, with 96 laps led.
The Season So Far ... Through the 12 races contested so far this season, RCR has acquired two wins in the Nationwide Series, both with Elliott Sadler, who notched victories at Phoenix International Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway. RCR has earned five pole awards in 2012, with Sadler at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Iowa Speedway, Paul Menard at Texas Motor Speedway and Kevin Harvick at Richmond International Raceway. The organization has 17 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes and has led 631 laps in 2012.
RCR in the NNS ... In 802 Nationwide Series starts over the course of the last 15 years, Richard Childress Racing has earned 58 wins, 267 top-five finishes, 441 top-10 finishes and 37 pole awards, with an average starting position of 12.5 and an average finishing position of 12.8 among all races contested. RCR earned the Nationwide Series driver points championships in 2001 and 2006 with Harvick and in 2008 with Clint Bowyer. The Welcome, N.C.-based team earned the owner's title in 2003 with Johnny Sauter and Harvick and again in 2007 with Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer.
To the Point ... RCR's two full-time Nationwide Series entries rank first (Sadler) and third (Dillon) in the Nationwide Series driver championship point standings heading into the Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway. The No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet team sits second in the owner point standings while the No. 3 AdvoCare/American Ethanol/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team ranks fourth. The No. 33 Menards/South Point Hotel & Casino/Hunt Brothers Pizza/Armour Brands/Fast Fixin'/OneMain Financial/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet team driven by Brendan Gaughan, Harvick, Menard, Ty Dillon, Tony Stewart and Max Papis sits fifth in the owner championship point standings.
Social Media ... To keep up-to-date with the latest news and information and to view exclusive content, visit RCR's Twitter page - @RCRracing, RCR's NASCAR Nationwide Series team Twitter pages - @RCR2ESadler, @RCR3ADillon and @RCR33NNS, RCR's Nationwide Series driver Twitter pages - @Elliott_Sadler and @AustinDillon3 and the official Facebook fan pages - facebook.com/ElliottSadlerOfficial, facebook.com/adillon3 and facebook.com/PaulMenard27.
Live on ABC ... Flag-to-flag coverage of the Alliance Truck Parts 250 is scheduled to be televised on ABC beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, June 16 and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet
Event Preview Fact Sheet
This Week's OneMain Financial Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Elliott Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial team will unload Chassis No. 104 from Richard Childress Racing's NASCAR Nationwide Series stable this weekend. This is the fifth time the team has utilized this chassis, including a pole and third-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and most recently, a seventh-place result at Dover International Speedway.
Heading to the Irish Hills ... Sadler competed at the two-mile track seven times in the Nationwide Series, notching four top-10 finishes. He brings experience from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 24 starts at the track, including one top-five and six top-10 finishes. He also competed in one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event in 2010 where he finished ninth.
Last Time By ... In 2011, Sadler fought to an eighth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway after falling a lap down to the leader late in the race.
Just the Stats ... According to NASCAR's 2012 Loop Data Season-to-Date statistics, Sadler leads the Nationwide Series in the following categories: Average Starting Position (4.4), Average Finishing Position (6.9), Laps in the Top 15 (2,251) and Percentage of Laps in the Top 15 (96.1 percent). After 12 races this season, Sadler earned two wins, six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes with 126 laps led.
To the Point ... Sadler returned to the top of the Nationwide Series driver championship point standings, sitting 12 points ahead of the second-place driver. The No. 2 team sits second in the owner championship point standings, 34 points behind the No. 18 team.
Race Rewind: Dover ... Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial team overcame a loose-handling condition to claim a seventh-place finish in the Nationwide Series event at Dover International Speedway. The finish helped push Sadler to the top of the championship driver point standings.
The REAL Heroes ... Throughout the summer the No. 2 OneMain Financial team will participate in "The REAL Heroes" program, a campaign designed to salute the troops. The No. 2 team will host military members at Nationwide Series races throughout the summer. In Dover, Sadler spent time with a family from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Fans also have a way to get involved and send thanks to the troops throughout social media outlets and at OneMain Financial branch appearances during that time. For more information, visit www.onemainracing.com and utilize #OMRREALHeroes.
Seeing Pink ... For the remainder of the season, Sadler will have a little more color to his outfit on race days. The Emporia, Va., native will sport pink driving shoes, showing support for Breast Cancer Awareness. Sadler's mother, Bell, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and is now a survivor.
Questions, Questions ... Sadler is scheduled for media availability on Friday, June 15 at 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time in the infield media center at Michigan International Speedway with RCR teammate Austin Dillon.
Meet Sadler ... Fans have the opportunity to meet Sadler at the Nationwide Series autograph session on Friday, June 15 at 4 p.m. ET at the Budweiser Acceleration Club located outside turn four.
Trackside ... Sadler will serve as co-host on Friday for SPEED's NASCAR Trackside from Michigan International Speedway. The show will air on Friday at 7 p.m. ET on SPEED.
Happy Father's Day ... Crew chief Luke Lambert will celebrate his first Father's Day with son Waylon, who was born in January. Sadler will spend Father's Day with his two children, Wyatt and Austyn, and his father, Herman.
ELLIOTT SADLER QUOTES:
What are your thoughts on Michigan International Speedway?
"Michigan (International Speedway) is a fun track. There are always a lot of bragging rights involved because it is in the manufacturers' backyard. With only 125 laps in the Nationwide Series race, there is a sense of urgency. We have to unload quickly and qualify well. I'm very interested to get out there on Friday for practice to see how the repave affected the track. The track has historically been one that fuel mileage is very important, and with it being a shorter race, anything can happen."
You get to be home on Sunday. What makes Father's Day special for you?
"One thing I love about NASCAR is that family is so important. If it wasn't for my dad, I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today. He is my biggest fan, but also a man that I revere and will be my biggest critic. He sacrificed so much for my brother, Hermie, and I so we could pursue our dreams. Now that I am a father, it is so fun to be able to see everything from his shoes. I'm thrilled to be able to spend this Father's Day with my two kids, Austyn and Wyatt. Having kids definitely changes your life. It's always nice to get home after a long weekend away. No matter what kind of weekend you have at the track, to walk into my house and have two kids hugging and smiling on you makes everything better."
No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet
Event Preview Fact Sheet
This Week's AdvoCare Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Austin Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 109 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable. This is the same Chevrolet that Dillon drove to an 11th-place finish after securing his best Nationwide Series starting position of second at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
Dillon at Michigan International Speedway ... Dillon battled his way to a 19th-place finish after starting 37th in his lone Nationwide Series appearance at Michigan International Speedway in 2009. The 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion has two starts at the track in the Truck Series, earning his best finish of fifth in the June 2010 event after starting from the pole position. In the August 2011 Truck Series race at the track, Dillon was making a move for the lead on the outside line with 10 laps remaining in the race when a car running the bottom groove clipped him, causing significant damage to Dillon's truck. He was unable to complete the race and posted a 22nd-place finish. He also has one ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start in 2009, where he finished second after starting 36th.
Spark your Engines ... Dillon and his team will sport the colors of award-winning premier health and wellness company AdvoCare on the No. 3 Chevrolet this weekend. AdvoCare offers nutrition, weight loss, energy and sports performance products of the highest quality developed through comprehensive research and backed by a Scientific and Medical Advisory Board. Dillon trains with AdvoCare products during the week and is a distributor of AdvoCare products. For more information about Dillon's favorite products, including Spark, Rehydrate, meal replacement bars and Post-Workout Recovery, visit http://www.AdvoCare.com.
The Season So Far ... According to NASCAR's Loop Data Season-to-Date Statistics, Dillon has completed 99.27 percent of laps on the lead lap, leading all competitors. He has completed 95.4 percent of his laps in the top 15, ranking him second andis the third-fastest driver late in a run. The Nationwide Series rookie has an average running position of 8.189 in the season's 12 contested Nationwide Series races, ranking him third among all drivers and has made 541 Quality Passes, ranking him fourth. He maintains a driver rating of 102.5, ranking him fifth, has the fifth-fastest speed in traffic and is the fifth-fastest driver early in a run. He has the sixth-fastest green-flag speed and is ranked seventh in the Fastest Laps Run category with 103 laps so far this season.
Get to the Points ... Dillon is third in the 2012 Nationwide Series driver championship point standings, 14 points behind leader Elliott Sadler and two markers shy of the second position. Dillon currently leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings over Cole Whitt.
Questions, Please ... Dillon will join RCR teammate Elliott Sadler to field questions from the media in the MIS Infield Media Center on Friday at 10:45 a.m. ET.
Meet Dillon ... Dillon is scheduled to make an appearance at the Team Chevrolet Stage located near the track's main Gate 24 ticket office in the Fan Plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
Happy Father's Day ... Dillon will spend Father's Day with his family at MIS by making his first Sprint Cup Series start of the season in the No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet. Both his grandfather (car owner Richard Childress) and father (RCR Vice President of Competition Mike Dillon) will be in attendance.
Livin' the Dream ...
With a newly paved racing surface that is sure to see blistering fast lap times, Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley team will have their work cut out for them at Michigan International Speedway this weekend. Ambrose will look to bring home his first top-10 finish at the two-mile track in the Quicken Loans 400, as he will make his eighth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Michigan on Sunday.
The Australian native's best finish (15) at Michigan International Speedway came in 2010 and his best start (16) came in 2011. He has completed 1,217 of 1,403 laps attempted at the two-mile track. Ambrose enters this weekend's 400-mile race in 17th-place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
In addition to this weekend's normal racing activities, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will have an extra day of testing at Michigan on Thursday. Michigan International Speedway was recently repaved and the additional track time will allow driver's and teams to assess the new racing surface ahead of Sunday's 200-lap race.
Don't forget to tune into Sirius XM Radio on Channel 90, Friday, at 10 a.m. ET for the Morning Drive with Pete Pistone and Mike Bagley to listen to Marcos talk about Michigan testing and Sunday's upcoming race.
Ambrose's car will have a different look this weekend as Stanley will return as the primary partner of the No. 9 Ford Fusion.
Marcos Ambrose's Thoughts on Racing at Michigan:
"Michigan has a brand new coat of asphalt and I think it's going to be even crazier than Pocono was last week. We've got some extra room to move around here so things can get interesting. We are going to carry a ton of speed at Michigan. We've heard from other drivers when they went up there to test it was really fast.
"I think the fans are going to be in for another treat this weekend because of the unknown factor. Who knows what Michigan is actually going to race like once we get 43 cars out there at the same time? It's going to be interesting to see how things shake out at the end of the weekend. We just know it's going to be fast.
"My Stanley race team has been working long hours to get my cars ready with all of the testing we have done the last month and I can't thank them enough for everything they do. Hopefully this weekend all of that hard work and dedication will pay off at Michigan."
Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on Going to Michigan:
"With the newly paved surface it will be interesting to see how the track races when we unload for testing on Thursday. In the past we have had to have a car that has good downforce and a lot of horsepower. I suspect it will be much the same this year. The Stanley Ford will have to turn well in the center of the corners and will need to have good drive off the turns too.
"Michigan is a fun place to race. I imagine with the new asphalt it will make it even more exciting. The track is wide, so that allows for a lot of two and three-wide racing in the corners, which makes the racing very entertaining for the fans. We're heading into this weekend with high expectations and at the end of the day we want to see that Stanley Ford Fusion in Victory Lane."
“Hey, little girl, look what you’ve done. You’ve gone and stole my heart and made it your own.” Lyrics to singer Jack Johnson’s “My Little Girl” aren’t far from the truth if you’ve ever seen Jimmie Johnson (no relation) with his daughter, Genevieve. And while getting an elusive win at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn Sunday is on the to-do list for the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, nothing is sure to put a smile on his face more than celebrating Father’s Day as the proud dad of his favorite 2-year-old.
Dad certainly will have some work to do if he wants to have a family picture in victory lane after the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Michigan has been a bit of a thorn in the No. 48 team’s side. Fuel mileage has spoiled victory hopes on several occasions. The track also is one of only five on the circuit where Johnson has never celebrated one of his 57 victories. Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the others.
Johnson arguably came closest to reaching Michigan’s victory lane in 2009. Johnson dominated the June race, leading 146 of 200 laps. He started third and was in position for the win when he stayed out while most of the other drivers pitted during a caution on lap 152. Fuel was a concern for the majority of the competitors, including Johnson. He restarted third and eventually caught leader Greg Biffle. Victory wasn’t to be, however, as Johnson ran out of gas after taking the white flag and finished 22nd.
It was nearly déjà vu that August as Johnson started fourth, led 133 laps and was in position to win late in the race. The team called in Johnson on lap 149 for four tires and fuel, but, despite saving gas under caution while leading, he wasn’t able to make it the final 51 laps, running out of fuel in the final two laps and finishing 33rd.
Fuel won’t be the only challenge at Michigan this weekend. With another track repaving project complete at the 2-mile oval, the Sprint Cup garage will work from new notes and lists throughout the weekend. There is one task on Johnson’s to-do list for Sunday, though, and that’s knocking the number of tracks where he hasn’t won down to four. If that happens, there’s sure to be a few hearts stolen if Johnson ends up in victory lane on Father’s Day with the little girl “who stole his heart and made it his own.”
No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota driver Clint Bowyer is spending Tuesday and Wednesday attending the Goodyear Tire Test at the newly reconfigured Bristol Motor Speedway. After that he is heading to Michigan International Speedway for a NASCAR open test prior to the regularly scheduled Sprint Cup Series race weekend.
For Bowyer it will be his third visit to a new racing surface in the last two weeks following last weekend’s trip to Pocono Raceway.
“This has been one of the most interesting stretches of races that I can remember because it’s like we’ve visited three new tracks in the last two weeks,” explained Bowyer. “Each track was unique on its own even before the repave, but now it just adds a little extra challenge when you have to adjust to a new surface. You spend years building your notebook and trying to learn the track, but a repave or surface upgrade can make a pretty big difference.”
Bowyer has back-to-back eighth place finishes in the last two races at Michigan. He is looking for his third straight top-10 finish in the last three weeks when he visits Michigan this week after a fifth place finish at Dover and sixth place finish at Pocono.
“The race at Pocono with the new surface and shorter race proved to be more exciting for the race fans and changed the dynamic of the race for the drivers,” Bowyer continued. “Pocono still has a lot of character even after the repave, but it was smoother and had more grip.
“And I have to give a tip of the cap to the folks at SMI, Bristol Motor Speedway and NASCAR for listening to the fans and making the changes that needed to be made to provide a better experience at Bristol,” said Bowyer. “The surface before wasn’t bad and it wasn’t bad racing, but it wasn’t the Bristol that we all grew up watching. I think the fans will be happy with the changes they made.”
Michael Waltrip Racing’s three Sprint Cup Series entries finished third, fourth and fifth in the March 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. finished third, Bowyer finished fourth and Brian Vickers fifth.
Bowyer joined reigning Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton at the test.
Immediately following the test at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bowyer and the No. 15 team will head to Michigan for the NASCAR Open Test on Thursday prior to start of the regularly scheduled NASCAR weekend starting on Friday.
“If Michigan is even close to the job that they did at Pocono and Bristol then I think the fans will be in for a treat this weekend. It should be very fast, exciting racing and make for a great show. I can’t even remember the last time I visited three racetracks in a two week period that all had new racing surfaces. It’s pretty great to see the investments that ISC, SMI, Pocono and NASCAR are making in these tracks to improve the product on the track.”
There will be a special moment before Sunday’s NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway for two of Mark Martin’s crew members and probably dozens of others in the sport.
MIS is one of three tracks in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that plays the Canadian national anthem along with the Star Spangled Banner as part of its pre-race ceremonies.
The playing of “O Canada” has special meaning to Mike “Nook” McCarville, a native of Prince Edward Island, and Toronto’s Glenn Shano who travel the NASCAR circuit each weekend as part of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine crew at Michael Waltrip Racing.
“I’ll have guys on my team look at me and tell me to make sure to stand at attention,” laughed McCarville, a shock specialistand 14-year Sprint Cup veteran. “Everyone looks to me. It’s kind of like a hockey game with both anthems. It’s all good-natured ribbing, but they understand that it’s special to me.”
Michigan International Speedway says nearly 20 percent of its fan base hails from Canada. The track is about 90 miles from Windsor, Ontario. Few think of Canada as a hotbed for stock car talent, but the list of Canadian drivers starting NASCAR events exceeds 50, including Earl Ross who won at Martinsville in 1974.
There were many driving greats who never made it to NASCAR including Shano’s first racing hero, Canadian Norm Lelliott.
“People in Canada love racing,” said Shano, who finished second in the Freightliner Run Smart Driver Challenge and third in the Pilot Flying J Truck Driver Challenge in 2012.
“There’s strong racing at the local level. I got started working on my dad’s two race cars in the 1960s at places like CNE, Pinecrest and Cayuga Speedways. Everyone I know follows racing in Canada. You get out in the country and you see just as many NASCAR license plates and decals as you do in North Carolina.
Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger enters this weekend’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway knowing what the major news topic will be. He expects the adjective “fast” to get monumental use from the beginning of Thursday’s 8:00 a.m. test session on throughout Sunday’s 400-mile race.
“Michigan has always been a basic, really fast two-mile oval and with the new repaving it will be much faster,” said Allmendinger, who will be making his 10th career start at MIS in Sunday’s battle. “Just how much greater the speeds we will run? That’s the big question heading there and everyone is curious to find out.
“The qualifying record will fall at Michigan on Saturday; that’s pretty much a given,” Dinger added. “Based on what we saw at Pocono last week, it will be really interesting to see how much the old record is beaten by and how many drivers can do it. Of course everyone will be talking about the high speeds we are taking into the corner.”
The current track record at MIS is 194.232 mph (37.069 seconds), set by Ryan Newman in qualifying for the June 2005 race. Kurt Busch drove the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge to the Coors Light Pole in last June’s race with a one-lap speed of 188.699 mph (38.156 seconds).
Last weekend at Pocono Raceway, the NASCAR premier series also attacked a brand new racing surface. Joey Logano established the new track qualifying record there of 179.598 mph (50.112 seconds). That obliterated the old record of 172.533 mph (52.164 seconds) that dated back to 2004. The top-36 qualifiers broke the old track record in last Saturday’s session.
Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup Champion, was among the five drivers participating in the April tire testing at MIS for Goodyear. When pressed for his reaction on the speeds the cars were running, he responded, “Probably, I would say fast to too fast.”
So how fast is “too fast?”
“I don’t know…I’m not driving,” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon answered with a chuckle. “But seriously, as far as what I am hearing for the top speeds into the corner at Michigan…215 (mph)…some swore they saw 219 (mph) during the tire test there.
“Our team did not participate in the tire test, but our teammates did,” Gordon said of Brad Keselowski and his Paul Wolfe-led Miller Lite Dodge Team (the Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya teams also participated). “We’ve discussed it a lot with them and the consensus is it’s going to be really fast. I read where Montoya said he had hit 238 at Michigan during his open-wheel days and that at times during the test, his stock car felt faster.”
Gordon certainly wasn’t too shocked by the high speeds seen during the tire test and expected to be seen again this week on the newly repaved 2.0-mile moderate-banked D-shaped race track.
“With the new surface, it’s to be expected,” said Gordon. “After all, I saw 209 (mph) at Pocono going into Turn 1. That’s coming off the longest straightaway we have and going into a tight low-banked turn. I don’t know if that might be even more demanding than taking the higher speeds into the turns at Michigan. The bottom line is that NASCAR officials have had no comment about the expected high speeds or any plans to slow the cars down.
“The faster speeds are a foregone conclusion,” Gordon added. “What impact that has on the racing there is yet to be seen. Every time we race at Michigan, you have to consider that fuel mileage may likely figure into the equation.”
Unlike at Pocono last week where the team’s plan going in was to test one car (the “PRS-814”) and race another (the “PRS-819” – and changed late Thursday afternoon to actually race the test car – the plan is different for Michigan.
“We’re preparing to utilize the ‘821’ there in Thursday’s testing and use it for the remainder of the weekend,” Gordon said.
In nine career Sprint Cup starts at Michigan, Allmendinger is still looking for his first career top-10 there. He has been running at the finish in all nine of the races and finished on the lead lap six times. He has completed 96.7 percent of possible laps (1,746 of 1,806). Overall, Dinger has a 25.7 average start and 21.2 average finish at Michigan.
As crew chief Gordon pointed out, Allmendinger and crew are scheduled to be racing their “PRS-821” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan. This chassis has been raced only once; during the April Samsung Mobile 500 weekend at Texas Motor speedway. Dinger started 12th and finished 15th in that battle on the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval.
EGR at Michigan: In 43 starts at Michigan International Speedway (MIS), EGR drivers have accumulated one win (2007: Sterling Marlin), four top-fives, nine top-10s and have led 207 laps.
Did you know?: EGR has earned two victories in the ARCA Series at MIS. In 2003, Casey Mears started from the pole and led 55 of 100 laps to earn EGR’s first ARCA victory. In 2004, Reed Sorenson rolled off second and led 59 laps en route to victory at MIS.
Watch out: Kyle Larson, who was announced as a developmental driver for EGR in February, will make his first appearance in the ARCA Racing Series fresh off his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win on Saturday, June 9 at Gresham Motorsports Park. Larson will race the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing entry in the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 at MIS, which airs live on SPEED, Friday, June 15 at 5 p.m. ET.
There’s an App for that: CGRT and SapientNitro SM recently re-launched an updated mobile application, which is one of the first for the high-velocity world of racing. The application brings fans updated driver and event information, and exclusive content in one centralized and expansive mobile experience, bringing to life the rich heritage and legendary success of CGRT. The unique mobile application conveys the high-octane rush of the racing experience for a team that competes at the highest levels in three series – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, IZOD IndyCar Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Click here to visit the iTunes Application store and download the CGRT mobile app.
JAMIE MCMURRAY AND NO. 1 MCDONALD’S TEAM
McMurray on Twitter: Catch the latest from the driver of the No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet by following Jamie McMurray’s personal Twitter account, @JamieMcMurray.
Pocono Recap: The No. 1 Banana Boat Chevrolet started 11th and quickly moved up to the front of the field, where McMurray led three times for 14 laps during the 160-lap race. The No. 1 team focused on fuel strategy to keep McMurray in position should the race come down to a battle of fuel mileage. Crew chief Kevin “Bono” Manion had McMurray on a different pit cycle than some of the leaders hoping for a long green flag run, that would force many others to need one additional fuel stop. However, two cautions in the last 25 laps benefited those teams that were gambling on fuel mileage. McMurray would still battle to a 10th-place finish, gaining nine positions in the final 15 laps.
McMurray at Michigan: In 18 starts at MIS, McMurray has earned one top-five, four top-10s and led 14 laps. He has an average start of 25 and an average finish of 19.5. His best start is second in 2010, while his best finish is fourth in 2004.
Pass and Go: McMurray ranks first in the number of green flag passes in the last 14 races at MIS. The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet has completed 1,249 passes, which is 91 more passes than the driver ranked second.
Cowboy up!: Stop by the McDonald’s Rock and Race Concert Saturday evening at Michigan International The concert will feature Big $ Rich with special guests Cowboy Troy and Bradley Gaskin. The multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated duo will headline the always popular and free post-race concert in Lot 10 on June 16. The concert will begin shortly after the Alliance Truck Parts 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Golden Arches: There’s no reason to go hungry while visiting Michigan International Speedway this week. McDonald’s is conveniently located within two miles of the track at 306 South Main Street, Brooklyn, MI.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA AND THE NO. 42 TARGET TEAM
Montoya on Twitter: Catch the latest from the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet by following Montoya’s personal Twitter account, @jpmontoya.
Pocono Recap: The No. 42 Chevrolet started 17th and unfortunately brushed the wall as the Pocono 400 went green flag racing. The Target team brought the car down pit road multiple times for repairs and adjustments. Pit strategy fell into place as the laps continued. Montoya and the Target team stayed out on track as two caution flags flew in the closing laps and battled it out until the end. When the checkered flag waved, the No. 42 was credited with 17th.
Montoya at Michigan: In 10 starts at MIS, Montoya has earned two top-10 finishes. He has an average start and finish of 17.4 and 23.2, respectively. His best start came in the summer of 2009, when the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet rolled off third, while his best finish of sixth came in the spring of 2009.
Going for a Test Drive: After the recent repave at MIS, Montoya participated in a Goodyear tire test in April. Montoya commented, “This place is fast, I mean, fast, fast. Our minimum speed was over 180 mph into the corner and we are doing over 210 mph at the end of the straight. For a car like this it’s really, really quick. It’s a lot of fun.”
Like a Rock: The No. 42 Target pit crew will be at the Chevy display on Sunday, June 17 at 9:30 a.m. ET to sign autographs. Also, keep an eye out for Montoya, who is featured in national Chevrolet advertisements, which recently debuted. This year marks the beginning of the fourth season EGR has partnered with Chevrolet in the NSCS. This is Montoya’s first appearance in a national Chevrolet advertisement.
Hit the Bullseye: On the way to Michigan International Speedway this weekend, stop by Target for all of your race-day essentials. Target is located at 1076 Jackson Crossing, Jackson, MI. Call ahead and make sure they have what you need at 517-788-3900.
No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1208. Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 McDonald’s team will bring Chassis #1208 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. This chassis has raced this season at Las Vegas and Kansas finishing eighth and 14th, respectively. Most recently, this chassis raced in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finishing 21st.
No. 42 Target Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1209. Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1209 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. This is the first race for this chassis.